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Q:  First and foremost...THANK YOU. I know it must have taken some time and energy to read and answer that message. Your advice was VERY helpful. It gives me a sense of comfort knowing that you truly understand it. I have too long been surrounded by people that can't understand why I'm still in this...or why I visualize myself in it longer. I had one question regarding  your reply. You wrote:

"Your partner my be too ill to change at this time.  One option you have is to give this time in the hope that gradual positive changes will eventually lead your partner to become more open to implement additional changes."

Right now he has asked me for us to take a time out...a break. It has been very difficult me because I have no support from friends to communicate with him and on top of that his attitude doesn't help. Should I give him space for now and wait for him to contact me or should I call him once in a while even if he gets his attitudes? Should I wait until the summer when we'll spend more time together and he might calm down? During this time, if I communicate with him, should I talk to him as usual with all the I Love You's or should I keep it on a friendship level?

Last time we spoke he kept asking me if I was in the FBI and trying to stop his "social movement". He said he didn't trust I was saying the truth but the only reason he keeps me alive is because he loves me. He sort of joked it off though. How seriously should I take this? How should I react next time it  happens?

He keeps associating me with his "highs" and "lows" as he refers to them (high being normal and low being manic, although he doesn't call it manic). Do you think there's a possibility this could be true? Could I be having some sort of real impact on his equilibrium or is he just making the association out of coincidence because of his mental state?

About putting demands of what I want out of him on the table...I think that's what I'm going to do. However, what do you think are relatively rational demands on my behalf. How do you suggest I present them to get a better  reaction from him?

I don't pretend you know the answer to all of these questions. I know every case is a world apart but right now you can help me more than any other person around me so anything you say can help. Thank you again so much for understanding and taking the time to help me...and him.

Dear V,

     The key to stability in your relationship is that your partner make it his top priority to focus on his bipolar disorder FIRST.  This means having the patience and persistence to stay on his treatment to stay on his treatment and to get the correct medications and dosages until you see improvement  and stability over time.

     While this may be very difficult for you to do, if your partner is asking for a break or "time out", honor his request.  Give him space for a period of time and let him contact you.

     I strongly recommend reading Julie a Fast's book "Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder; Understanding & Helping Your Partner, 2004.  It will help you put together a treatment plan for you and your partner even in the absence of your partner's immediate participation.

     Your partner's unbalanced equilibrium is due to a nueorchemical mbalance in his brain which can be stabilized at least primarily via proper medications.  He either does not understand this or is in denial about its cause and you are a convenient and gullible target.  You have very little to do with his mood swings.  If your partner is able to place blame on you, this allows him to take less responsibility for handling them himself.

     Put the bipolar diagnosis aside for a moment and sit down to make a list for yourself before confronting your partner about what your needs are.  "What am I doing with my life?"  "Do I really have to do all of this, or is this something that just happened and I'm going along with it?" "Am I taking care of myself?" "What do I need and what does our relationship need in order to be happy, healthy, and stable?"

    Remember, you may have to wait until he comes to you to have this conversation.  If you decide to have it now, he may not want to listen or talk about his bipolar disorder.  In that case, end the conversation and do not allow yourself to be the object of an abusive "bipolar conversation".  Good luck.  You are not alone.

David Schafer, M.Ed.
Staff Psychologist

Published April, 2006


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